Then and Now, A Brief History of Florence
Posted by Dympna (10/08/2017)
Birthplace to the Italian Renaissance, Florence is an amazing city. Situated on the Arno River, it is the capital city of Tuscany and famous as a modern city with plenty to do, whilst also having a rich history.
If you are fascinated by history and like to visit cities with a colourful past, then Florence should most definitely be on your bucket list. Its streets are filled with secrets from earlier times, and there’s artwork and history woven into each of the city’s mesmerising buildings. Here is a brief insight into the history of this intriguing city.
Birth of a city
During the period around 700 B.C. the Etruscans settled in Tuscany, giving the region its name. The Romans were the first to populate the actual city of Florence, around 59 B.C. It was during this early period of Florentine history that work began on famous landmarks such as the church of San Lorenzo.
Rise of the Medici
In 1458, Cosimo de’ Medici became the ruler of Florence. The powerful Medici family had a massive influence on Florence during their three years in power, including the creation of the now world-famous Uffizi Gallery.
‘The Uffizi Gallery is a creation of the Medici family: we owe the construction of the building to Cosimo I in 1560, the creation of the museum to his son Francesco I in 1581 and to the last of the Medici, Anna Maria Luisa, the eternal inheritance of its contents to the Florentine state in 1737.’ Uffizi.org
A story from this time involves Michelangelo who had sided against the Medici in a coup against them in 1530. The Medici eventually won meaning Michelangelo had to hide in a small room in the Cappelle Medicee until being pardoned.
Many members of the Medici family dedicated much of their lives to collecting art from around the world. They turned Florence into the home of the Italian Renaissance. Known as an open air museum, the city contains many wonderful statues such as the reproduction of Michelangelo’s David.
Florence is also famous for its world-class architecture such as the stunning Cattedrale di Santa Maria del Fiore (or Duomo). Engineered by Filippo Brunelleschi, the dome of the church is a joy to behold.
Florence – 17th Century to modern day
At the beginning of the 17th Century, Florence was given to the Lorraine family. They eventually left and King Vittorio Emanuele rose to power as ruler of Florence. Echoes of the Renaissance period can still be found throughout Florence. It is also a renowned centre for education, housing the University of Florence and the Polimoda fashion school.
Tips for Visiting Florence
It’s worth keeping a few things in mind to make your visit to Florence as enjoyable as possible:
1. Pick up a Firenze card – this is a great card to pick up when in Florence. It is valid for 72 hours, gets you free entrance to the important museums and free bus rides.
2. Dine at Il Latini – this is one of the most popular restaurants in Florence. Here you can enjoy a delicious, authentic Tuscan menu.
3. Make a plan – it is worth making an organised plan of what you want to see and where things are before you set out to explore the city. During peak season, the city can get very busy with large queues for the main galleries, so be sure to arrive early and allow yourself plenty of time.
Rest assured, a visit to Tuscany and Florence is one you will treasure. As the author Jennifer Coburn noted, ‘Visiting Florence is like attending a surprise party everyday’. Click here to take a look at our excellent collection of ideally located villas in and around Florence.